Daily Howler logo
HOW WE GOT THERE! Broder is there to dream his weak dreams. And Ana is there to be silly: // link // print // previous // next //
TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 7, 2006

ORACLE BACKSLIDES: Uh-oh! A preacher fell from grace this week—and a famous oracle back-slid again. In Washington, people call Charlie Cook the “Prophet on the Potomac” (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 11/6/06). But uh-oh! According to Adam Nagourney, the seer has revised his visions again:
NAGOURNEY (11/7/06): Polls over the weekend suggested that the contest was tightening, and some prognosticators on Monday were scaling back their predictions, if ever so slightly. (Charlie Cook, the analyst who is one of Washington's chief setters of expectations, said in an e-mail message on Monday that he was dropping the words “possibly more” from his House prediction of ''20-35, possibly more.'')
Does Cook deserve to be called “The Great Char-nac?” At this point, “Char-broiled” might be more like it! Of course, when you earn your keep reading the flight of birds, you sometimes must clip your own wings.

There is good news in today’s voting, of course. Whatever the outcome, we’ll never again have to watch witless pundits run through those seven Senate races, offering pure, unfiltered pap and eroding the nation’s IQ as they do so. Starting tomorrow, they’ll have to find new ways to waste time. But don’t fear—they’re up to the task! Indeed, Nagourney’s utterly fatuous piece shows us where scribes will be heading.

By the way, when an oracle takes down his own words, do corporate groups get to take back their money? If they paid him ten grand for “possibly more,” does he get to hang onto their dough?

HOW WE GOT THERE: Our nation is in a very bad state. This morning, that day-dreaming dean of all pundits, David Broder, helps us recall how we got there. “After the Negative Campaigns, Sage Advice,” the headline on this brilliant piece says.

Broder recalls something Lamar Alexander once said; it’s “a wise policy to have at least one old geezer on the White House staff...someone who can speak with utter frankness without fear of the consequences.” Needless to say, this makes Broder dream about the vast wisdom of his own cohort:

BRODER: (11/7/06): That's excellent advice, and my one regret is that my old colleague Mary McGrory, who certainly would have qualified for [such a] council of elders, did not live long enough to serve. But some of Mary's finest work is finally between hard covers in "The Best of Mary McGrory," published by Andrews McMeel and selected and edited, with great love, by Phil Gailey, a dear friend of Mary's from the old Washington Star who is now at the St. Petersburg Times.
Broder offers two clips from McGrory’s book. She once wrote this about Nixon, he says: "He was smart but got something big wrong: He thought politics was war and that everything is justified.”

Our recollections of McGrory’s work are different. We recall the “sage advice” she put in the Post after that first Gore-Bradley debate—the debate we mentioned just yesterday (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 11/6/06). Gore and Bradley had spent an hour in a detailed discussion of health care. Here was McGrory’s reaction:
MCGRORY (10/31/99): Vice President Albert Gore came to his fateful encounter with newly menacing challenger Bill Bradley carrying heavy baggage. He was wearing an outfit that added to his problems when he stepped onstage at Dartmouth College: a brown suit, a gunmetal blue shirt, a red tie—and black boots.
Everyone hated Gore’s raiment! “Was it part of his reinvention strategy?” McGrory asked. “Perhaps it was meant to be a ground-leveling statement—‘I am not a well-dressed man.’” Not yet spent, she sagely continued: “It is hard to imagine that he thought to ingratiate himself with the nation’s earliest primary voters by trying to look like someone seeking employment at a country music radio station.” A hail of similar inane insults followed. Four days later, she wrote again, complaining about Gore’s “distracting new suit, a three-button brown affair that caused much nostalgia for navy-blue serge.” That, of course, was the same brown suit the Post’s Marc Fisher was still deriding at the end of November. See THE DAILY HOWLER, 11/6/06. Marvel at the work of this group.

Somehow, Broder forgets this consummate nonsense when he imagines the traits of his cohort. And how fitting that Gailey would be the editor of this deeply inspiring new book! In 1996, it was Gailey whom the New York Times tapped to ridicule Gene Lyons’ Fools for Scandal—the book which so clearly described the start of the press corps’ destructive “Freak Show.” It was the most important political book of the 1990s—and Gailey was marched out to tell the world that there was nothing to look at (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 9/1/99). They hadn’t seen the price of the “Freak Show” yet. Just marvel at how this group functions.

Like Nixon, this dim-witted group went to war—against Gore. When they did, they acted as if “everything was justified.” They invented “quotes” for their troubling foe—and they talked, without end, about bad wardrobe issues. (It was “a campaign about clothing,” Paul Krugman later said.) Eventually, their war sent Bush to the White House.

To Broder, though, they’re still founts of wisdom. He longs for the day when their “sage advice” will be right there, on hand in the White House. They worked for two years to put Bush where he is. Broder, a cyborg, can’t tell you.

WHERE WE ARE: And yes, this cohort still shapes our discussion. Last night, Joe Scarborough hauled out Ana Marie Cox, then asked her to share her deathless thoughts about the Webb-Allen race. Ana started:
SCARBOROUGH (11/6/06): Ana Marie Cox, let`s start with you. Talk about the Virginia race. It’s certainly one of the tightest, most interesting, and nastiest Senate races in America.

COX: And one of the most hilarious, really.

SCARBOROUGH: It is.

COX: I think that George Allen—late-night comedians the world over owe George Allen a debt of gratitude, and that’s one of the few reasons I’d like to see him get re-elected.
Pure stock. “Yes, but look at these polls,” Scarborough urged, “and this question’s just how strong Jim Webb is.” Cox was ready to help out there too. Remember the famous pundit formula—unlike us, these guys are both idiots:
COX: Well, that’s true. But the thing is here is that Allen is a bad candidate. He`s run a terrible campaign. Webb is just no one. He’s just kind of boring. He’s kind of a pumpkin-head.
Allen had been entertaining—but Webb, who was kind of a pumpkin-head, was just no one. He was also kind of boring.

For reasons which must be perfectly clear, pseudo-con hit-men have rolled over such perfect ciphers for years. Broder is there to dream his weak dreams. And Ana is there to be silly.